Sunday, November 16, 2008

Taizé Brussels 2008

Taizé receives large numbers of young people during the spring, summer and autumn, but in wintertime they encourage them to meet up in a city, and trust to the locals to find them room for sleeping mats (in houses, school gyms, church halls). "Pilgrimage of trust" is a phrase I've heard for it; perhaps even the official name. They've done one city after another for 30 years, and this year they're coming to Brussels, from 29 December to 2 January.
I've been asked to help organize the sleeping places in our parish and it's proving a slow business to find people willing to open their doors to foreign youngsters during the Festive Season. That it is the Festive Season is one of the most common reasons given for not doing - which makes me wonder what they can be celebrating in the dead of winter if it doesn't include hospitality. Belgians are also reluctant to provide floor space: those who are willing to take in strangers are those with spare beds. Saying that the pilgrims are only expecting floorspace scandalizes them. As I recently said to a Hungarian friend: the Belgians are the most hobbit-like people on the planet.

4 comments:

xpecial said...

That's such a shame. If my house wasn't full to the rafters already it would be the greatest pleasure I could imagine to host these wonderful young people!

Paul said...

Well we got there in the end, but it was slow going. There are six staying at our house (two from Italy, two from Poland, two from Sweden). They seem pleasant enough, on a brief acquaintance. One of the Italians teaches in a Don Bosco school.

Kasja said...

I was a participant in the Taize Meeting in Brussels and I was accomodated in a small town nearby. I think that my hosts treated "the floorspace" requirement too seriously - they put me and my friends in a basement with almost no heating (it was really freezing down there) and treated us as if we were savage... I would say that it's better when some people state clearly that they don't want strangers in their houses than when pressed by the community they do something they don't really want to and make foreigners (I'm from Poland) think that people from Belgium don't know what hospitality means. Thus, I invite you to Poland this year, the meeting will be held in Poznan, I hope that Poles won't fail as hosts. Greetings

Paul said...

Kasja, how awful! I do hope you made the problem known to the parish organizers. The brothers of Taizé were quite insistent that 2 square metres of floorspace, and breakfast, was all that you would require, but it is sad that the spirit of hospitality should be lacking where the objective requirements were met. I am confident that the Poles won't fail as hosts, but as we say in English, "There's always one that spoils it."